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Dec 09

Without doubt, email is a great communication tool but if you are spending more time dealing with email than getting the right work done, then read on….

Before you press send on your next email, ask yourself the question – should I send this email…?

Would You Email the Hospital for a Medical Emergency or Dial Emergency Services?
It’s highly unlikely you’d send an email for a medical emergency.  Why not?  Because you need an urgent response; just because you have sent an email it does not mean the recipient has read it or is available to action it.   So, if you want immediate confirmation that someone knows you need urgent attention, then the best means of communication is a phone call……

Who are you cc’ing and WHY?
All too often emails are copied to a large group who don’t actually need to be on copy;  think about who you are copying on emails and why, if it is “for information only” then perhaps a more efficient approach is to  forward them the email trail when a resolution is reached – that way they get 1 email not 10!

Sending an emailing can often prolong getting a task complete…
All too often, emails are sent to initiate getting a task off a to do list; but sending an email which requires a response merely adds extra time – a quick phone call could get the task complete much quicker.

If you are returning from holiday, start reading and responding to the most recent emails!
How many times have you received emails from individuals who have returned from holiday and are responding to out of date emails?  Annoying eh?  Always start with the most recent, familiarise yourself with the whole email trail – then determine whether you even need to respond given the time lapse.

Not every email needs a reply
Whilst it is very polite and friendly to say thank you when a colleague helps you out – a major contributor to email overload is the widely held expectation that every email must get a reply even if it is just “ok” or “thank you” – try to avoid doing this, it is more polite not to fill their inbox with pointless emails!


If you feel like your email has got a bit out of control, why not try some simple email management techniques:

  • Give your inbox a spring clean – think of your inbox like physical mail, sort by date to clear out your messages as efficiently as possible, delete the ones you’ve read and require no action, file those that you might need to refer back to, delete the junk and unsubscribe from newsletters you never read.
  • Create a new approach for managing your emails – instead of checking email every time you have an incoming message, reading the important ones, scanning the unimportant ones and then leaving them all in your inbox; try dealing with your email in batches at certain times of the day, by dedicating time to your emails you can process them properly – read, action, file / delete as appropriate, leaving you with a small manageable inbox.
  • Use the 2 minute rule when processing emails – reply to any message that will take fewer than 2 minutes on the spot, then delete / file as appropriate.


  • Send fewer emails and you will get fewer – assume that every email you send will generate 4-10 responses, so for every message you send you are creating more work for yourself.


Need an instant reply? – try instant messaging using Lync

  1. Lync means you are not cold calling.
    You can see if the person you are trying to contact is available or busy (as it connects to Outlook diary), if showing available, start the conversation with “Hi” and if they are free to respond they will normally type back.  Otherwise the window will stay open or they will type reason for not engaging in a conversation (e.g. in a meeting)
  2. Need to speak to someone but their status on Lync is unavailable / in meeting.
    1. Either:- Lync them so they get the message when they return (a missed conversation will also be sent to their email inbox)
    2. Or tag them in Lync and when they are back online, it will alert you.


Key Takeouts:

  • Email less – talk more
  • Your motto from the moment you log on to email should be Read – Respond – Delete (or archive)